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Rice Pudding with Strawberries

A bowl of rice pudding with a spoon and a scoop of halved strawberries and juice
A stove-top rice pudding is a tiny bit more effort than one baked in the oven, but you do end up with a pure-white and deceptively luxurious result, which is a wonderful contrast to warm, soft strawberries and their ruby-red syrup.
Ed Smith

Prep 25 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 55 mins
Dessert
American
4 to 6 servings
377 kcal

Ingredients 

For the creamed rice

  • 6 ounces arborio* or carnaroli risotto rice (about 1 cup)
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk plus more if needed
  • 1 vanilla bean split with seeds scraped out
  • 3 strips orange zest via a vegetable peeler, and preferably organic
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)
  • Scant 2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream

For the strawberry conserve

  • 1 pound 2 ounces fresh strawberries hulled and halved
  • 1 heaping tablespoon superfine sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)

Directions 

Make the creamed rice

  • Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water draining through begins to clear, 30 to 60 seconds. Dump the grains into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the milk, vanilla pod and seeds, orange zest, and salt, set over medium heat and warm to a simmer, stirring occasionally to ensure the rice is not sticking.
  • Once simmering, reduce the heat to as low as possible. Place a lid on top, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring at first occasionally, then over the last 5 minutes relatively frequently as the ratio of liquid to rice reduces. Remove from the heat.
  • Taste the rice. It should be almost cooked through, but still with a slight bite, and there should be a fair amount of liquid remaining, with the grains almost swimming rather than clumping together. If not, add enough milk to loosen.
  • Remove the orange zest and vanilla pod, stir in the sugar. Leave the rice to sit and swell further for 10 minutes with the lid on-–returning a couple of times to give it a quick stir.

Make the strawberry conserve

  • In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the strawberries and sugar, mix to coat berries. Warm until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the strawberries leach a syrupy liquid and are softening but are still bright red and intact, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Once the rice has finished resting, it should be soft and luscious, but a little stiff. Add a scant 2/3 cup of cream and stir-–this should ensure that once decanted the rice flows, rather than stands stiffly. Add a dash more cream if necessary (if it seems like a lot more is needed, then add extra milk).
  • Serve in shallow bowls, topped with the strawberry conserve.

Notes

*What kind of rice should I use for rice pudding?

Rice pudding works best with starchy rice, like arborio or carnaroli rice which are both used for risotto. Risotto is, if you think about it, a savory rice pudding so it stands to reason that it works just as well in a sweet version.
In some places, you can buy a specific version of short-grained rice that's marketed specifically for pudding. There are lots of recipes that use long-grained rice but the outcome won't be as rich or toothsome.